The goal of the Spark distribution is to incubate authoring experience improvements in a Drupal 7 and Drupal 8. It was announced earlier this month, and since then we've been hard at work on initial research and design.

The Spark team's primary focus is on improving Drupal's content authoring and editing experience, and the first feature we're prioritizing is in-place editing: the ability to edit content, menus, etc. directly on the page, without the need to navigate to a separate edit form. Think of it as "true" WYSIWYG.

Members of Acquia's design team spent time analyzing how some of the most widely adopted Open Source as well as proprietary CMSs do in-place editing. We then prototyped some initial ideas, and performed usability testing on those prototypes to see what works and what doesn't. After a number of iterations, we're happy to report that the usability testing has validated Spark's general design direction. People loved the prototype. Now is a good time for us to share our initial prototype and to solicit further feedback from the community so we can shift gears into implementation.

The following 5-minute video walks through the HTML/JS prototype, and also provides a bit of background on the Spark project:

Our goal is to deliver this functionality in a contributed module for Drupal 7 first and foremost, which will live at the In-Place Editing project on This module will be bundled into the Spark distribution. Depending on how it is received, I hope we can also target this functionality for Drupal 8 core.

From a technical architecture standpoint, we are currently in the process of selecting the WYSIWYG editor to use in Spark for in-place editing of HTML content. For now, we plan to focus on supporting only the Filtered/Full HTML text formats in order to get us to something testable faster.

Later, we are hoping to branch out into other areas of authoring experience too, including helping with the content creation form improvements that the Drupal usability team has been spear-heading, as are well as the layouts UI work being actively discussed in the usability group. The Drupal usability team is doing an incredible job with these issues, and once fully staffed, I would like to see the Spark team help implement these improvements for Drupal 8 and backport them to Drupal 7 so we can ship it with the Spark distribution. (Did I mention that the Spark team is hiring? ;-))

As you can see, things are starting to move along quite nicely. Please join the discussion in the Spark issue queue if this functionality sounds exciting to you and you'd like to help!


dkrockville (not verified):

Yeah! Love it. It's the biggest request from our Drupal CMS clients, especially placement of photos/graphics among the text in a more natural way.

BryanSD (not verified):

This is fantastic stuff Dries. A couple weeks ago, I tweeted that I thought Spark is probably one of the most important Drupal projects currently out there. Content writers have been needing for Drupal to catch up with workflow and in-line editing for some time now.

I think it's significant in Angie's video when she notes that the team is looking "elsewhere" in how in-place editing is being done to meet the needs of users. In many cases, I love the drupal way. However, it is very nice to see there are those such as Acquia in the Drupal community that also recognize the user way must also be considered.

Trombone (not verified):

This initative is awesome. This is what Drupal (and most other CSM'es to be frank) is missing. It's the wow factor I've been missing when demoing Drupal to potential clients, and the intuitive interface existing clients has been missing.

Anonymous (not verified):

This looks amazing. Thanks to everyone involved!

Wim Leers (not verified):

We've definitely already looked at it, and we'll learn from their code. However, the major with that module is that it always shows the fields as forms.

For Spark, every field will look the same as it does today, until you go into edit mode and then click a field to edit it, in-line. That's a big difference!

Rob Davis (not verified):

What about the OpenPublish distribution?

  • Will Spark/IPE kill OpenPublish off?
  • Can OpenPublish and Spark/IPE pool together to deliver a shared project faster?
  • Cross compatibility between distributions: would it be possible for users to migrate between these?

OpenPublish is a distribution of Drupal for news publishing organizations. Spark is a distribution of Drupal that improves the editorial experience but it is not limited to news publishing organizations. OpenPublish can probably re-use parts of Spark, or could possibly be build on top of Spark.

Anonymous (not verified):

Totally agreeing to that, this will help productizing and selling Drupal as a drop-in *so* much to non-technical folks. This is going to be a great-great win!

Darren Lovelock (not verified):

Wow! This sounds like a much needed feature, my clients don't get on with the 'WYSIWYG' editors and having to preview the nodes to see changes.

It will be interesting to see how this works with inserting and positioning images. Also it would be nice to see blocks with customisable fields in core too :)